May 25, 2022

Despite Ending Stellar Season with Loss in Prep A Final, Hun Baseball Cemented its Elite Status with MCT Crown

FINAL INNINGS: Hun School baseball player Carson Applegate fires a pitch in the Mercer County Tournament. Applegate starred as Hun won its first-ever MCT title, beating Hamilton West 6-0 in the final Thursday. Last Sunday, senior star Applegate battled hard on the mound as Hun fell 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A state final. Applegate went 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and three walks as the Raiders ended the spring with a 22-4 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When it was over, Carson Applegate trudged off the field with arm around Ben Romano as they consoled each other after the Hun School baseball team fell 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A state final last Sunday afternoon.

The defeat ended a marathon week for Hun which saw it fighting a two-front war as it won the program’s first-ever Mercer County Tournament title on Thursday night and then battled from the loser’s bracket to make the Prep A final in the double-elimination competition.

With his eyeblack smudged by tears, Applegate acknowledged that going for two titles in seven days was a grind.

“It was definitely a highly emotional week with a lot of emotional wins especially Thursday night,” said Applegate. “Winning the MCT, that was a goal for us. With Brody [Pasieka] on the mound and everybody in the field just laying their hearts out, that is the standard we set for this program.”

Applegate and his classmates were heartbroken after coming up just short against Pingry, hugging each other one by one in right field after the team’s postgame talk.

“I think this is the first time I have ever cried on the baseball field,” said Applegate. “These bonds that we have built over the past couple of years are really special.”

Having lost 8-2 to Pingry in the first round of the Prep A tourney, Hun rebounded by topping Peddie 15-0 on Saturday and then defeating Lawrenceville 10-1 early Sunday morning to advance to the final against Pingry.

Even through Applegate was spent, he was psyched to take the mound for Hun in the finale.

“I was drained. I took a four-hour nap when I got home and I felt horrible when I woke up,” said Applegate, who went 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and three walks and went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

“We all came back and win a big game this morning and never gave up and that is just who we are. I was fired up to get my last start out there and do as much as I can.”

A subdued Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto was disappointed that the memorable week didn’t culminate with a second title.

“It was fun, I wish we could have finished it off,” said Monfiletto, whose program was going for its sixth straight Prep A crown. “We almost got there but we couldn’t pull it off.”

Monfiletto credited Applegate with gutting things out, knowing that Hun was playing shorthanded.

“We didn’t have much experience after him, he definitely felt that,” said Monfiletto. “We had guys out of position all over the place. I don’t want to make any excuses, Pingry played well.”

Hun played hard to the final out, pushing across two runs in the bottom of the sixth after it fell behind 5-1 and getting a runner on in the seventh inning before he was erased by a Pingry double play.

“That was what we were really proud of, they left everything on the field, every ounce of sweat, energy, and whatever they could,” said Monfiletto. “They left it all out there. That was fun  to see. I am proud of how they competed to the last out. That was a difficult week but they competed for each other and their effort was something I am really proud of.”

The efforts of the team’s seniors were major source of pride for Monfiletto.

“They have propelled this program into a different stratosphere,” said Monfiletto, whose senior group included Ryan DiMaggio, Jackson Kraemer, Sam Segal, Brody Pasieka, Tommy Kydonieus, and Carson Wehner in addition to Applegate and Romano.

“We are on a completely different level. We are recognized with some of the best programs in New Jersey which was our goal. I think we will be that way for a while. A lot of that is because of the effort they have put in in the three seasons that they had here. It is a shame they didn’t have that 2020 season.”

While this season didn’t end the way Hun wanted, the 2022 campaign will go down as one of the best in program history.

“It is incredible, I think we tied the program record for wins,” said Monfiletto, whose team went 22-4. “The schedule that we played was a juggernaut, especially at the end of the season. We had some huge wins, some signature wins. It sucks to finish on this note but after we think about this for a while, we will be able to think about Thursday and appreciate what we achieved there and winning a third straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) championship.”

Applegate, for his part, is proud of the legacy this year’s squad will be leaving.

“I think that this team definitely left a mark in Hun’s history, winning the MCTs for the first time in program history, having a chance at another Prep A tournament, and winning the MAPL for the third straight year,” said Applegate, who is headed to the University of Kentucky where he will be playing for its baseball program.

“All of the guys worked their butts off the whole year in the offseason and that really showed.”